Clorox seeks to change the game with new trash bag

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Taking its cue from Swiffer, Dyson and other breakthroughs in cleaning-product design, Clorox Co. is out to reinvent the garbage bag.

Clorox's new Glad ForceFlex Trash Bag, a plastic trash bag embossed with a diamond-shaped quilted pattern that allows the plastic to stretch to avoid punctures or tears from sharp or heavy objects, is the latest to be developed under CEO Gerald Johnston's strategy of introducing "game changer" products. While competitor Hefty built its brand on a similar no-tear, strength strategy, that positioning was based on the plastic's thickness rather than innovative new design.

"We believe Glad ForceFlex is an important game-changing consumer proposition," said Mr. Johnston in a recent analysts meeting following the announcement of a 24% jump in quarterly profits due to sales of more premium-priced products. "It's going to be growing the category because it's going to be at a higher price point on a per-bag basis," he said. "In a category that has a fair presence of private label, this is the first launch of a product in which we're really doing a serious consumer value-add as we move forward."

Clorox will be backing the new trash bags with its biggest product launch budget ever, said one retail buyer, estimating total marketing support will reach $60 million. Clorox executives declined to comment on spending.

According to Information Resources Inc., last year Americans spent $870 million on garbage and lawn and leaf bags, at retail outlets excluding Wal-Mart. Clorox executives said the value of the category is closer to $1 billion when Wal-Mart and other untracked channels are included.

Private-label products held the greatest category share in terms of dollars, 32.3%, and units, 41.8%, according to IRI. Glad was second with a 30.5% dollar share and 24.7% unit share for all its various brands. Hefty was third with a 27.2% dollar share and 20.1% unit share.

get glad

Benno Dorer,VP-marketing for Glad, said ForceFlex will kick off a major brand repositioning for the Glad line. New creative, breaking today, truncates the long running "Don't get mad. Get Glad" tag line to simply "Get Glad."

"We are emphasizing the benefits" of the product and not the negatives of other products, said Mr. Dorer. "Mad is less an integral part of this."

The spot for ForceFlex, from Omnicom Group's DDB, San Francisco, shows a runaway elephant charging down a city street when it is captured in a giant ForceFlex bag, its pointy tusks contained in the bag (see the spot at QwikFIND aap89y). Subsequent illustrations show more typical household uses, such as containing a pizza box.

The effort includes a Hispanic spot, a direct-response TV spot, print, outdoor, and sampling at Wal-Mart and other retail chains and-in an interesting twist-distribution via pizza delivery chains, Mr. Dorer said.

He said the bags are priced at 10% to 15% higher than current offerings, and with fewer bags per package. Retail executives, however, put the margin higher than that.

Other products in the "game changers" lineup include Press `n Seal food wrap and Clorox ToiletWand. Press `n Seal, like ForceFlex, was developed in a joint Clorox and Procter & Gamble Co. venture.

Another product that P&G had developed is a storage container that can collapse to fold flat, according to an executive familiar with the deal, although Mr. Dorer said he was unaware of such a product.

Mr. Johnston has said Clorox expects "game-changers" such as ForceFlex each to add one percentage point, or $43 million annually, to the top line of the $4.3 billion company.

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